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Wolves in the Cabinets

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New Pack confirmed in McKay Creek

In late July, the Cabinet Ranger District received a report from the Stimson Forester, working in McKay Creek, that his loggers had seen eight wolves. The information was passed to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who investigated the report. A trapping crew come down during the last week in July and searched for wolf sign. They established a trap line and, in mid-August, caught two male wolf pups, each approx. 35 lbs. One was black and the other gray in color. Trapping continued through August 22, 2002 and no other wolves were captured. 

The pack has been named the Green Mountain Pack. The adults in the pack may be wolves that were observed last February by some residents in the Swamp Creek area. Both pups were fitted with radio collars, padded with foam rubber to allow for growth, but one slipped his collar four days after his capture.

This pack is one of at least 15 packs that had pups in Montana this summer. 2002 represents the third year that recovery goals of 30 or more breeding pairs of wolves in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming have been met. Therefore, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service intends to propose removing the wolf from the Endangered Species List in 2003.

Because of its position between the Northwest Montana and Central Idaho wolf populations, the Green Mountain pack is an important one in demonstrating that the three state's wolf populations are becoming one single, large population and that the wolf population has recovered sufficiently to be taken off the endangered list. The 3-year countdown to wolf recovery began in 2000, with the discovery of the 30th known pair of wolves to successfully raise pups in McCall, Idaho.

Wolves usually hunt in specific territories. The size of the territory depends on available food, climate, and external pressures like human and other predator competition. Size is generally ten square miles times the number of wolves in a pack. Wolves prey on ungulates (elk, deer, moose) and focus on the weakest of those animals in the herd. Wolves are also opportunistic hunters, and will sometimes kill healthy animals if safe opportunities arise. Like bear, they are also scavengers.

Only the alpha pair of a pack breed, with pups born in early spring. A wolf "pack" consists of one alpha pair and generations of their offspring. It's estimated there are eight wolves in the Green Mountain Pack.

with Steve Johnson, Wildlife Biologist, Cabinet Ranger District and Tom Meier, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Biologist

 

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wolves, wildlife, Cabinet Mountains, Green Mountain Pack

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